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Nuggets season in review: Bones Hyland

Denver’s newest fan favorite

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Bones Hyland - 2021-2022 per game statistics

Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals + Blocks FG% 3P%
Season Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals + Blocks FG% 3P%
Regular Season 69 19 10.1 2.7 2.8 0.9 40.30% 36.60%
Playoffs 5 17.4 9.2 2 3.2 0.2 36.10% 34.80%

The story of the regular season

With the 26th overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets selected VCU guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland to bolster their roster. He burst onto the scene as an immediate fan favorite due to his contagious smile and jubilant spirit, but when it comes to the hardwood, he is as competitive as it gets. To begin the season, Bones was trying to find his role in a team with championship expectations. Michael Malone positioned him as a backup guard who played off the ball, but when they finally put him at the backup point guard spot he flourished.

Bones started to earn Malone’s trust in December when his minutes per game jumped from 12.3 to 18.4. He averaged 9.2 PPG during that month, and although he was yet to find his three-point stroke, he would display his many talents throughout the end of the season. In March, he averaged his highest-scoring month at 14.3 PPG and 4.3 assists on 47.6% shooting from three. Overall, Bones demonstrated the potential to be an above-average passer with great vision and creativity paired with great marksmanship from three-point range.

Did it translate to the playoffs?

Although Bones showed his many talents throughout the regular season, his issues related to consistency and that is what translated to the playoffs. It is difficult to expect a rookie to consistently produce in an environment he has never been in, plus the fact he faced a dynasty in the Golden State Warriors. His playoff game-high was 15 points in the Game 4 win. He shot 5-10 from the field and 3-6 from three along with 7 assists and was tied for the game-high plus/minus at +13.

In the blowout losses in the first two games of the series, Bones did eclipse double-digit scoring, but he did not shoot efficiently from the field. In the final game of the season, Bones scored 4 points on 0-6 shooting and 0-4 from behind the arc. Could he have played better? Sure he could have, but the education he gained in this series will initiate his success in future series.

Best Moment - 21 point game versus the 76ers

The Nuggets faced off with the 76ers in a nationally televised game on March 14. At that point in the season, it could have been characterized as Denver’s most important game. It was a clash of two MVP candidates, and the Nuggets had to win this game to stamp their relevancy on the rest of the league in the national spotlight. Of course, Jokic did Jokic things, but Bones Hyland was the star of the show. He dropped 21 points on 4-9 shooting from three. All of his threes came in the fourth quarter and many of them were from several feet beyond the arc. In one of the biggest games of the season, on the road, against a tough Philly team, Bones put his name on the map.

Season Grade - B

As the 26th overall pick, there was not much expected of Bones this season. Many were not sure how he would ingratiate himself with Denver’s crowded guard room, but he grew his standing in the depth chart quickly. Since Monte was trusted into the starting lineup, the Nuggets desperately searched for scoring from their bench and Bones was their best shot. Not only was he their best shot, but he proved to be Denver’s most trusted bench scorer during the regular season. Bones did struggle with shooting consistency, turnovers, and on the defensive end. Those weaknesses were evident during the postseason, but in my opinion, Bones over-achieved during the regular season. There were 25 picks before his name was called, and he finished the season as the 8th-ranked rookie in scoring.

What does the future hold for Bones Hyland?

The future is bright with this one. He is an electric, microwave scorer who has the ability to record 5-7 assists if he gets the requisite minutes. Unfortunately for his sake, Jamal Murray is expected to make his return early next season, which will likely force Monte Morris back into the backup point guard role. If Bones continues to improve, that might push the Nuggets to trade Monte because they will have multiple options at the reserve point guard spot, or they can move Bones back to off-ball duties. Bones proved he belongs in the league with his production this year, so he will likely have a future with this team for the next three years.

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